Full care orders for four children with poor school attendance – 2019vol2#43

The District Court granted a care order under section 18 of the Child Care Act 1991 for four Traveller children until they reach the age of 18. The mother of the children was deceased and the father did not participate in the care proceedings. The care order for all four children was supported by the court-appointed guardian ad litem.

The appointed social worker prepared an extensive report for the court and she was sworn in first so that the report was before the court but she gave her evidence later in the hearing.

The first witness called to give evidence was the assistant principal of the primary school attended by Child B, Child C and Child D. The court was told that Child B had recently commenced secondary school at the school attended by Child. The assistant principal told the court that he had contact with the family for the past four years and had had a number of interactions with the father.

The assistant principal gave evidence that he was contacted by the social worker in January in relation to the attendance at school of B, C and D.

Assistant principal: “The attendance of the children pre-Christmas and post-Christmas would have been of concern. Their attendance would have been irregular from the beginning… very poor and missing two or three days most weeks.”

The assistant principal gave evidence that the children had missed a considerable number of days at school and there had been a referral to the education officer. He told the court that he had made attempts to contact the father.

Assistant principal: “I would usually make phone calls or house visits. I would have had a good working relationship with him. This year he was not taking calls and there was no answer at the house. His communication with the school stopped… A few texts threatening not to approach the house and not to come again and he said ‘come down to the house I dare you’.”

The assistant principal told the court that he had had concerns about the emotional presentation of the children. He said they were “slight kids and pale” but were generally happy. The assistant principal had no emotional concern until last year when the children stopped making eye contact, they did not say hello in the corridor and kept their heads down.

Assistant principal: “They shut down and did not engage… They were presenting as a bit more irritable in class which would have been out of character from what they were like before.”

The assistant principal raised his concerns with the social worker and the education welfare service. The school report for the children set out the attendance of days missed, ranging from 49 to 55 days.

Referring to the lack of communication with the father, the teacher said: “I was under advice not to attempt any more home visits from a safety point of view.”

The assistant principal said that he gave evidence at the initial interim care order in April and the children had been in care since then. He said that their attendance was “much better and time-keeping has been perfect”.

CFA solicitor: “When you did speak to the father what were the excuses he gave?”

Assistant principal: “It would change, sometimes that they were sick, sometimes they had head lice and a long-standing theme that education was not for people like him.”

The court was told that a recurring theme from the father was that “Traveller children should not be in education”.

In respect of B, the solicitor for the CFA asked how her presentation was after the interim care order.

Assistant principal: “It changed pretty much overnight. Tuesday was the first day back. She was instantly happier and more relaxed. She engaged with teachers and was chatting with other kids. … There were six or seven girls learning a dance routine to perform at the graduation and she asked the teacher to take part. That was huge from what she had been like to actively ask to take part.”

The assistant principal said that B’s attendance was 100 percent and had been since she went into care. He said that she had missed “a huge chunk of school” so was a bit behind but that she was “getting stuck in” and attending.

The assistant principal said that the non-attendance at school had always been over 20 days every year but as there was a willingness to engage by the father he said that he “never felt it needed to be escalated”.

The assistant principal said that C was doing well “almost straight away” after going into care and that he was much more engaged and social and happier in himself. He said that C was content and was happy to discuss his home life in his foster placement in comparison to before when he would have been “very secretive”.

Assistant principal: “If asked previously what he did on the weekend he would not have answered.”

The assistant principal said that a decision was made in respect of D before she went back to school that she would repeat the year as she had missed so much of the previous year because she had not gone to school from November 2018 to April 2019.

The assistant principal said that D had asked some “strange questions” at school.

Assistant principal: “She told staff that her mother was murdered. As far as I am aware that is not correct. She asked people if they know her father. She says it almost with a smirk on her face to see a reaction.”

The assistant principal said that academically there were some gaps but that D was willing to learn and was present every day.

CFA solicitor: “Are they getting any supports in school for numeracy?”

Assistant principal: “It is not deemed necessary at the moment… There is no deficit, just making up for the time missed.”

When asked, the assistant principal said that he would have been very concerned if the children were to be returned to their father.

Assistant principal: “I would be very concerned in all aspects of life. They are like different children now. As a school we want them to stay where they are as they are getting the care they should be.”

The assistant principal was asked about the children’s former routine and he said that most days they had attended school very late.

Assistant principal: “School starts at 8.30 and they would arrive any time from 9:30 to 11:00 … sometimes the children walked on their own and carrying Spar bags on the way… On one day they got a Snickers bar for breakfast. We had concerns… they were slight kids and [it was] tough to say if it was their natural build or underfed. Some days they were hungry. [Child B] took lunch from another child on one occasion. [Child C] fell asleep a couple of times.”

The assistant principal said that the children’s home was about five minutes’ walk from the school, “there is no debilitating factor to get to school in my opinion”.

The second witness to give evidence was a member of An Garda Síochána attached to the local Garda station in the child protection unit. The Garda said that An Garda Síochána had been aware of the family for a significant period of time. He told the court that his colleague made a welfare check in January and attended the house after concern was expressed by a neighbour that the children had their heads shaved.

CFA solicitor: “Was any rationale given by the father?”

Garda: “Lice infestation was the explanation. He said the he could not afford medication and had no option but to shave their heads. His own head was shaved as well.”

The Garda said that there was an unannounced visit by the Gardaí, the social worker and the social care leader later in January.

Garda: “It went poorly. It was fraught. The father was uncooperative and extremely abusive. He was heightened and aggressive. Initially he would not allow any access to the house. We spent some time engaging with him and trying to calm him and eventually he allowed us access to the house.”

The Garda said that the father’s demeanour was fluctuating constantly and that towards the end of the visit he became more abusive to the point that with C he said, “go on, take him if you want,” and there was crying.

The Garda said that the social worker wanted to chat with the children and to establish the reason why the children’s heads were shaved as the treatment was too expensive.

Garda: “That was very traumatic for [B] as she had long hair and did not want to go back to school until it grew back.”

The Garda said that after that visit he made a recommendation to the social work department that visits should be with Gardaí present as he was concerned it would escalate if there were not enough people present.

The Garda said that two more visits were conducted prior to a child protection conference in February to discuss the children’s attendance at school.

Garda: “The children were all in bed despite being called and they did not come downstairs.”

The Garda said that the outcome of the child protection conference was that there was an ongoing concern about the children’s attendance at school and about the father’s “erratic presentation and mental health presentation”. He said that there was a concern about the lack of engagement from the father and that there was no structure for the children.

Garda: “There was always some barrier of going to school… Chronic as opposed to acute.”

The Garda said that he had made recommendations to medical professionals at the beginning of the year and made a referral to the father’s GP under the Mental Health Act. He said that he never heard feedback from the GP in relation to that referral.

CFA solicitor: “Was it your decision to suggest to the social worker to have Gardaí present on visits for their own protection?”

Garda: “Yes”

CFA solicitor: “Can you give examples of his presentation?”

Garda: “Always fearful that he was going to kick off. If I said the wrong thing or moved he would erupt.  He would shout, he would threaten…”

The Garda described an incident where the Garda patrol car was attacked by the father.

Garda: “At a welfare check the guards attended at the house and he threw a brick at the patrol car damaging the car. We disengaged and requested assistance at which point he produced a golf club, allegedly.”

The Garda gave evidence to the court at the initial interim care order and he said that he still had concerns if the children were to be returned to their father.

Garda: “I have been attempting to contact him. He does not answer the phone or the door. He answered last week and his behaviour was abusive and threatening saying ‘I’ll sort you out’.”

The Garda said that when the initial interim care order was made, he was present at the property when the social work team went to the property to take the children into care. He told the court that a number of Gardaí were present and they had to isolate the father as he was fraught and abusive. He said that the father never crossed the threshold but that he was verbally abusive and they had to compartmentalise him in the kitchen. The Garda was not asked any further questions by other parties.

The third witness before the court was another member of An Garda Síochána who gave evidence at the initial interim care order. He told the court that his contact with the family was limited to certain events. He said that he had attended at the property as he had received a call from a neighbour who had seen the children with recently shaved heads. He gave evidence that at the time of the visit there was four children in the house. Two of the children were in bed at 16.15 in the afternoon and two of the children were with the father watching cartoons. The Garda said that the children were eating dry cereal and their heads were shaved.

Garda: “[The father] said he couldn’t afford medical treatment and he said he was living in poverty. He said he had not received children’s allowance. Two of the kids had no footwear.

I saw two children asleep in the bedroom. The house was warm but there was little food at the time. The father said they were mainly living on takeaways as he had no car and was unable to afford food shops.”

The Garda said that he sent a referral and contacted the CFA and a visit was arranged for the following day. On that occasion he told the court that the father was visibly agitated and that his demeanour had changed and he was getting “worked up”.

The Garda said that he attended at the house the following month for a welfare check with the social worker and to inform the father of the outcome of the child protection conference that was held in February. He said the social worker asked for Gardaí to be present.

Garda: “I went with the social worker to the address. We knocked on the door and a son greeted us from an upstairs window. He was agitated and frightened. He said his dad was asleep at first and then he said he was gone into the shops. He got very frightened and wanted us to leave.”

CFA solicitor: “Why do you think there was this level of agitation with the son?”

Garda: “A possibility that [the father] could have been in the house and got him to ask us to leave. He was very frightened and wanted us to go. I don’t know if the father was there.”

The judge asked if the father can read and write and the CFA solicitor replied: “I can confirm he texts.”

The Garda told the court that when they returned to the Garda station he tried to contact the father by phone and that he eventually answered the phone and said that it was “not a pleasant conversation”. The Garda told the court that other Gardaí went out to the house later that night.

CFA solicitor: “What was the feedback from colleagues at the evening visit?”

Garda: “I know he was arrested as he assaulted a member of Gardaí and caused criminal damage to a patrol car.”

The fourth witness to give evidence to the court was a Youth Advocate Programme (YAP) coordinator. She told the court that her role was to case manage and coordinate young people referred to the programme through the CFA. The programme was to match young persons with an advocate who would set goals with the young person that they could achieve within six months. She told the court that the programme had interaction with the family in advance of the interim care order and the service had been put in place after the supervision order was made. She told the court that they had attempted to contact the father to get the children to engage but that it was not until they settled in with their foster placement that they engaged with the service.

YAP coordinator: “The advocate was to link in with [Child A] and [Child B] but subsequently took up working with [Child C].”

The YAP coordinator told the court that A had had four months of YAP services and the advocate was there to support the placement, to encourage school attendance and to identify areas of interest.

CFA solicitor: “What was [Child A’s] interaction like at the beginning?”

YAP coordinator: “His initial reaction was that he participated and engaged but he was a bit slower to identify areas he enjoyed. He was withdrawn and not able to identify what he wanted to do. He took a lot of encouragement and support and one to one work.”

The YAP coordinator described his placement with his foster carers.

YAP coordinator: “His foster carers have a big house with animals and chickens. He does some jobs to earn pocket money. He has a sense of pride out of that such as painting the fence and a sense of purpose. He tries to be brave and try new things”

CFA solicitor: “What does that mean?”

YAP coordinator: “He never really had his voice heard. It is about understanding what he wanted to do and what he enjoyed. He tries to be brave to try to be open to new things such as picking a movie for himself.”

The YAP coordinator gave evidence that there was an older sibling not subject to the proceedings and that A was very vocal that he did not want a relationship with her and that she had access with the other siblings but not him.

The YAP coordinator told the court that A had settled well in school and that he enjoyed going back this year.

YAP coordinator: “It was the first time he was prepared with a full uniform and books … He may require longer intervention going forward but he is gaining confidence with the one-to-one space.”

The YAP coordinator said that the service for C only came into being recently as he said the he wanted the service and that they “listened to his request”.

YAP coordinator: “He is getting on extremely well and has a good relationship with [his youth advocate] and they meet once a week. She supported him at a recent birthday party with a friend in his class. He was about three hours early for the party and was so excited. It was new to him. He had never been to a birthday party as he had never been invited.”

The YAP coordinator told the court that B is very engaged and willing to try new things such as learning how to ride a bike or swim. She said that B had been previously told that she was not allowed to learn how to ride a bike.

Solicitor for CFA: “How is she with the older sister?”

YAP coordinator: “She recognises traditional values. She struggles a bit with that when she is told she shouldn’t be doing things as a Traveller. She understands but doesn’t agree with it.”

The YAP coordinator said that she had seen a difference with all of the children but that the most striking difference was with A who was attending swimming twice a week.

GAL solicitor: “Is the service usually for six months?”

YAP coordinator: “Our service started on 30th April. They missed some time in the programme to allow them time to settle into the placement.”

GAL solicitor: “It appears extremely positive. Is it possible for them to remain involved to assist them in moving to long term placements?”

YAP coordinator: “It is a very needs-led service. It depends where they are placed. There are different catchment areas but we hope to continue. The plan is six months’ short-term intervention and it needs exceptional circumstances for an extension.”

The social worker was the fifth witness to give evidence to the court. She said that the CFA was aware of and had worked with the family for a significant period of time and that she was allocated in November 2018. She told the court that the educational attendance of the children was something that the CFA was concerned about. She initially tried to make contact with the family in relation to the older child, A, and then became aware that the younger children’s attendance had also “really dropped off”.

When asked about the referral to the educational welfare service she said that she could not make a referral for D because of her age and had intended to make a referral in respect of B and C. A’s school had already made a referral in respect of him.

Social worker: “The counsellor was very concerned with [Child A], looking at his presentation compared to other peers in the class. He was a very timid child and kept to himself. During the year he started isolating himself. He became very teary in his class if he forgot items. His resilience was very low. It painted a picture of a child not coping at all in class… she was worried about his presentation and felt that his mental health was quite poor.”

The social worker described her interaction with the family doctor and the GP had indicated that they had been treating the father for mental health conditions in preceding years. She told the court that the doctor had told her that the last time they had seen the father was summer 2018 and the prescription in the surgery was not collected. She told the court that the father was not medically compliant as he was not taking the medication prescribed and that his mental health was not being addressed.

The social worker described her most recent communications with the father.

Social worker: “I texted the father this morning to see if he was coming to court today and I have written numerous letters if not weekly, fortnightly to keep him in the loop. There has been no engagement at all from the father save for access that happened in June.”

The social worker told the court that she cannot attend the house due to the security risk but that she knew that he was still living there.

Social worker: “I had a conversation with [Child B] and she made suggestions to cut off his social welfare and she said, ‘that will get him on to you’. Parents do get welfare taken off them after six months and I have reminded him of this.”

CFA solicitor: “It is not a case that he does not understand or know proceedings are ongoing?”

Social worker: “It is my opinion that he is well aware. He writes texts and he said before that he wanted to go back to college. I write letters in very clear language.”

The social worker said that the day before the children’s heads were shaved, the father had had an opportunity to engage and to indicate that the children had head lice. She said that they called to the house to try to engage with him and she described the visit as “very tense”. She described the father as hanging out the kitchen window and front door shouting.

Social worker: “We did not want to leave until we clapped eyes on the children. It was very stressful. The children came out to the front door and he started grabbing their hands saying ‘take the kids’. They were saying ‘no daddy, no daddy’. It was hysteria. It was very traumatic for everyone.”

The social worker said that she told the lead worker that a child protection conference was required as it was “too much” and at that stage they were looking to start an application for a supervision order.

Social worker: “Then the children were sent to school for a number of days and we decided not to get a supervision order straight away. After attending at the property with the Gardaí, the next day the children were in school…. After a few weeks their attendance dropped off again.”

The social worker said that the application for a supervision order was adjourned on a number of occasions to allow the father to come to court with representation.

Social worker: “We had taxis outside his door that he had agreed to get into but he didn’t.”

The social worker said that the father had agreed to a home visit with the social worker at the end of March and she said it was “the first time we were allowed into the house”.  She said that the visit lasted twenty minutes and she met with the children and got a consent form signed to meet with the children at their school.

Social worker: “His goal was, ‘if I send the children into school does that mean you will leave’.”

The social worker said that she had visited the children at school.

Social worker: “I spoke to the kids and asked what time they get up at. They said 7.30. I asked why they were not into school until 10.30. They said that the father hadn’t changed the clocks. So the children were already an hour late for school. They said that they had a Snickers bar on the way in from the Spar shop. The school had observed [Child C] falling asleep and [Child B] stole another child’s lunch and put it into their bag.”

The social worker said that she had had concerns about what was viewed in the house such as adult films and violent horror films.

Social worker: “[Child D] had a fixation about a cartoon ‘Family Guy’. It is usually shown quite late in the evening. It is inappropriate for [her] to watch. It is more for ages 15 to 18. It sounded like not a lot of supervision was happening, a lack of routine and inattention by the father.”

The social worker said that the children’s diet was “a fierce concern”. She said that takeaways were the children’s favourite food and the father’s ability to feed the children nutritious meals was a concern.

The social worker said that the GAL was appointed at the end of March and attended at the house. The GAL had a deep concern about the property and the children’s emotional welfare. She said that the GAL “got a good view of the house we were never able to get”.

The social worker said that once the supervision order was granted in April they were not able to get into the property and they had attended the house on two occasions.

Social worker: “There was more ‘aggro’ at the door. What was striking was the children’s presentation on the second occasion. [Child C] answered the door and looked so stressed. He slunk off to get his father and the door closed… [The father] pushed [Child B] out the door. I asked her how she was getting on and she said ‘grand’… I left some books in a bag at the door as the children had said they wanted to read. I could not adequately assess the state of the property.”

CFA solicitor: “What was the effect on the children after the shaving of their heads?”

Social worker: “[Child B] said that she was thinking of going back to school when her hair grew back. They look different now their hair is so short. When she started going back in to school she always wore a cap on her head very firmly the whole time. I could see she was not comfortable with it.”

CFA solicitor: “It was difficult for her but not so much for the boys?”

Social worker: “[Child D] if people think she is a boy it really annoys her.”

The social worker said that there was a pattern that when the social work department was about to seek an order the children would attend school.

The social worker told the court that B and C did not attend school once the supervision order “kicked in”. She said that school attendance notices were sent to the father and he was invited to a meeting but that he did not attend.

Social worker: “He knew the terms of the supervision order and I explained them continuously.”

The social worker gave evidence that the father had been previously assessed by a consultant psychiatrist in the area and that they believed he had stopped taking medication in September 2018 as the GP had told her that the father’s prescription was not collected. The social worker said that they wrote to the father’s doctor on a few occasions seeking support for his mental health as they were concerned with how the father was presenting. The social worker said that they sought a referral from the consultant psychiatrist in June but that the consultant said that they had assessed him on a number of occasions and did not “see the point” of doing another assessment. A letter in the report from the consultant psychiatrist was read out in court.

Judge: “There was no significant adult in the house. Nobody in this case to give evidence so the doctor was limited in that what you see is what you get.”

The social worker said that she wrote to the GP over the summer seeking a solution to assist the father but she told the court that the GP had not responded.

Judge: “The difficulty is that he is not sufficiently bad to be sectioned. I accept fully the evidence from the Gardaí the fact he goes from zero to 100 in a rapid period of time about basically nothing. I think I can take it from the evidence that something is wrong. An adult cannot be forced to engage with the service, they can only be sectioned.”

The social worker told the court that since the initial interim care order was granted in May that there had been only one organised access with the father and the children.

Judge: “How did that go?”

Social worker: “It didn’t go well. In the preceding two weeks he engaged well. His brother and daughter had been out to the house to encourage him. He came to a meeting and engaged asking what he needed to do for access… amenable enough to do access. I didn’t believe at the time he presented a risk to us.”

The social worker said that she collected the children and brought them to the access centre in the area but the father did not arrive on time and she described to the court how the access visit went.

Social worker: “I rang him a quarter of an hour after access was due to start and he was still at home. He indicated that he had some bags of toys. He had an X-Box or console for [Child A] he wanted to bring to access. He then didn’t want to come. He then got into a taxi and was an hour and half late. He was fine for fifteen minutes and the children were all over him… He started going on about the house which is always a trigger point for him.

“Then he suddenly took off. [Child A] had been sitting in front of him and he stood up. The father jumped out of his seat and started roaring at me and roaring at my colleague. He completely changed…. extremely heightened, aggressive verbal assault. He made a lunge towards me. [Child C] thought he was going to break the window. The children were very afraid…. He was so loud other colleagues were ready to call the guards.”

The social worker said that she decided that a safety plan had to be put in place for the father to engage in a psychiatric assessment before access could be reviewed.

Social worker: “The children knew it was coming. [Child A] pre-empted what was about to happen. There has been no access since as the father has not engaged.”

The social worker said that the children’s weight had been very low when they came into care.

Social worker: “They were] very pale children. They looked emaciated coming out of the house. They looked desperate and very pale. In a few weeks with fresh air and healthy food there has been remarkable changes.”

Judge: “Have you had success cutting off his social welfare?”

Social worker: “That is this week.”

Judge: “There is a hugely difficult family dynamic…To be brutally honest I think the way is to cut off his social welfare.”

CFA solicitor: “For the child to suggest that… very insightful.”

The court was told of the family’s cultural identity and that the children have not known a Traveller existence other than being settled and the birth certificates indicated that they have always lived in settled houses.

The social worker said that the father had not engaged at any stage and the one access that did occur did not go well.

Social worker: “Access cannot continue until he sorts out his mental health.”

Judge: “Access is for development of the children… I am satisfied that the authorities have tried everything possible to encourage him to engage and further attempts may well be counter-productive as he has resisted everything so far… it may well be the ongoing criminal proceedings may force him into the arms of professionals.”

The social worker said that she would be very worried if the father was reunified with the children. She told the court that the father had not participated or engaged in order to seek reunification or to seek an update of the children’s welfare. She expressed the view that it was not in the children’s best interests to return to the care of the father at that time. The social worker said that she would seek to encourage access but the father had not engaged and it was her view that the physical health, emotional and educational needs of the children could not be met by the respondent father.

The social worker said that a care order was required until the children reach the age of 18 to meet their needs in an effective way and to ensure consistency and security for the children.

Social worker: “If the children are removed from care their health, development and welfare are likely to be neglected.”

The social worker said that she believed that the order sought was proportionate and the correct order to make.

The social worker told the court that the children’s current placement was due to cease in December or January “at no fault of the children”. She said the family were not continuing and it was always intended to be short term but that the CFA were looking hard for a new placement and the goal was to keep the four children together. The social worker suggested to the court that there should be liberty to re-enter the matter if no placement was found. 

The GAL was the sixth and final witness to give evidence to the court. The GAL was asked if the children’s current living arrangements were considerably different to before. The GAL said that Child D came from a house with no stimulation to a large modern home and that she was “walking around dazed from room to room” but that she quickly adapted.

GAL: “[D] is a shadow of her foster mother. Her obsession at the moment is with the Lion King. If she is not watching it, she is re-enacting it with her foster parents.”

Judge: “That is much more age appropriate.”

The GAL said that as soon as C came into care he was “a different child” and was “so good in himself”. The GAL told the court that in the previous few weeks there was a bit of a change and he did not like talking about his father and got very emotional and was crying and was finding it difficult to talk about it.

GAL: “They will require a lot of therapy, I would say. They need a more stable foster placement before that can happen.”

The GAL said that B loved the benefits of being in care such as going shopping and getting things she liked. He said that B was very interested in benefits and had asked about after care allowance in college. The GAL told the court that B said that she would like to go home but that she was happy in care.

The GAL said that A had “struggled greatly” and that out of all of the children he was more loyal to his father. The GAL described him as very isolated and that he always wanted to watch television and go on the computer.

GAL: “We did try to get him into routine. He painted the fence and helps with cooking, but he has said to me that he would like to go home. He said that we got it wrong and said ‘he did feed me’. [B] then interrupted saying that he fed them frozen pizza. [A] said that he will be 18 soon and will be going home then anyway. I told him that I am worried and that it is not safe for him at home.”

The GAL said that all four children love their placement and will struggle greatly when it changes.

GAL: “[B] is worried they will be split up. A whole uncertainty is coming up. All kids will require therapy. That is why YAP is an imperative at the moment. They benefit greatly from it.”

The GAL described the current placement as an “exceptional foster placement” and that it was unfortunate that it would not continue.

GAL: “Their wishes are that they want to go home. They said originally that they wanted to write letters. [B] said that she is happy to go home but happy in care. They are struggling in processing what is going on and there is a lot going on emotionally for them.”

The GAL was asked if he had any recent contact with the father.

GAL: “I tried to phone him a few times in relation to access and he would tell me to ‘F-off’ or a text in that regard. He was quick to get agitated.”

The GAL was asked to outline to the court why he believed it was necessary for the matter to stay live before the court.

GAL: “The kids will go through a big transition to move foster placement. It will be a difficult period as they have settled well into the current placement. The fact they are looking for a placement for four kids is challenging and may not happen. I think oversight of the court will be imperative. The father is not engaging and essentially abandoning the case and I think it is important that there is oversight by the court.”

The GAL said that the father “definitely has issues with aggression”.

GAL: “When he is in that mode he is escalated. He is quick to aggression at that point and there is no talking to him. It is imperative that he goes under psychiatric assessment. Something is not right for him and his mental health issues.”

Judge: “He is a disaster waiting to happen.”

CFA solicitor: “Do you think the orders are proportionate until 18?”

GAL: “I do. I think they need security. Even if the father was going to engage he needs a lot… I think a care order until 18 would be beneficial for them. I would think a review in early January would be best, or mid-January.”

CFA solicitor: “Would a default re-entry by 31 January 2020 if no placement is found be appropriate. Not a fixed date but either the CFA or GAL re-enter?

GAL: “In terms of [B] it is a big worry for her and I think I am the only independent voice of the children. I think it should be re-entered.”

The solicitor for the CFA asked if the father has the option to come back in the future if he gets help.

GAL: “Yes, absolutely an option for him and I think that is important in explaining the care order to the kids”

The judge expressed the view that the matter should come back before the court as there was four children and “too much going on” and the GAL was “anxious about movement, full stop” and not just whether there was a placement or not.

The judge said that she was satisfied having heard the evidence that the threshold for a full care order had been met. The judge said that she had the benefit of Garda evidence and was satisfied that the health, welfare and development of the children required the making of a full care order to the age of 18 for all four children under section 18 of the Child Care Act 1991.

Judge: “I think it has to come back anyway as four children going through an awful lot and I am wondering about the likelihood of a placement materialising for four of them.”

The judge listed the matter for mention in early January in relation to the care placement and care planning and to fix a review date. The judge directed that the GAL remain appointed until the for-mention date.